Tuesday, August 7, 2012

First Thoughts on BlogHer '12

Me reading "Holding Hands" as a VOTY at BlogHer12*
It is now two days since I've come back from the overwhelming, awesome, non-stop whirlwind that was the BlogHer12 conference (and yes, I know it was in NYC, my home town and I didn't officially "go away" as I slept in my own bed every night, yet still I was away from my regular life) and I have yet to have a moment to organize my thoughts on the matter, craft a carefully thought out response.

But this year, damn it, I am determined to not go down my usual rabbit hole of over-rumination, of having to have everything thoroughly digested before I wax forth on the subject. In other words, I'm going to get a post up about BlogHer before the week is out!

Even though I haven't uploaded all my photos yet! Even though I don't know exactly what I want to say about it yet! Even though my brain hasn't settled down one iota yet! Squirrel! Shiny! Where was I? Oh, yeah...

So herein find... not a deep thinking piece of any sort, but rather, what pops out as I whirl through thoughts of the last few days, kind of like the wispy pink threads that are spit out of the core of a cotton candy machine, once it heats up and spins up to speed.

So I now offer up here a few spun sugar thought tendrils that I have caught on the white paper cone I am desperately trying to properly twirl through the bowl of my mind; picking up the feathery wisps and gathering together into something of mass.

(And have I mentioned I am abysmally bad at the actual cotton candy making in real life, having signed Ethan's 4th grade class up for this particular booth at his school's spring fair this year? I thought it would be easy - ha! It requires a certain sort of coordinated dexterity and speed that are currently beyond me. I kept making a mess of things. A sweet, sticky mess. I wish someone had taken a picture of me as I finished my turn at the booth covered in cotton candy bits; looking like I'd gone punk with pink and lavender strands strewn throughout my hair.)

But back to BlogHer (see, my mind, it wanders) here's some nibbles, full meal to come later...

It start and ends with the people, because that's why I'm really there: seeing my Twitter stream and Facebook feeds come to life, getting to engage in face to face conversations with people I already felt intimate with online was, once again, both extraordinary and joyful.

Thursday's Health Minder Day was especially important to me because I was doing the special needs parenting track, and these, THESE were my people. The ones I NEEDED to see, to embrace, to laugh with.

This year, other than Thursday, I went to less panels than any other year, and certainly less than I'd initially planned. Why?



And that kind of took up a looooooooot of brainspace until it was over. And then I was a bit of a limp noodle for the rest of the conference, afterward.

I had snagged a fortuitous invite (thanks Holly) to a fabulous offsite event organized by Beth and hosted by Liz, where I ran into a host of friends I'd wanted to meet up with and got my picture taken with Kristin Davis:

I'm sure Kristin Davis so wishes she had curly hair like the rest of us!
I also learned all about Zarbee’s all natural honey based cough products. And? It was the perfect thing to keep me busy and distract me from what was coming up next...

Me, reading.**

I did it!

I took the stage and read my post "Holding Hands" as a "Voice of the Year" keynote speaker. I was number fourteen of fifteen readers, and as I listened to the others read before me, sharing their words with the most supportive and accepting audience possible, I actually grew calmer instead of more nervous, as I'd feared.

Standing at the podium I did indeed feel all those who had been there before, standing beside me in spirit. And not just this year's speakers but all five years of Voices, none more so than Susan Niebur, the amazing "Why Mommy" who passed away this past winter after a fierce battle with metastatic inflammatory breast cancer.

Hearing HER read on this selfsame stage two years ago at BlogHer 10 was the absolute highlight of that year, and to me this will always be Susan's stage.

It gave me strength as I read my post about my very elderly mother, who is currently in a much more frail, vulnerable and sad place than when I had written my essay the previous spring. I had been afraid I was going to break down and cry. But i got through it by staying in the moment, feeling the audience, so full of friends and well wishers, right there with me.

And then Shari, the last Voice of this Year, read a completely hysterical essay that had me, and everyone in the room, nearly peeing ourselves with laughter.

My lovely friend Shari, reading
And then there were parties, hotel bar conversations, then Saturday, right, Saturday I... I don't even remember what I did on Saturday (limp noodle, remember). Oh, I did time in the Serenity Suite being and helping others be serene. So serene in fact that I fell asleep a bit, sitting upright too. (And Heather and Ellie, being with you there, one of the heartlights of my weekend.)

Truly time for bed now, I'm getting sloppy, happy-lovey here, and I'm stone cold sober. In fact I had all of ONE drink at BlogHer, some ghastly (but effective) concoction at the Aiming Low party. 

So... Everyone was beautiful, I loved you all (even those of you who stepped on my feet whilst dancing to the overloud shitty music) and if I didn't drop your name in this post tonight, that's just because I'm saving you up for my NEXT BlogHer '12 post-mortem post, wherein I will tell all.

Ok, not quite all.

Because what happens at BlogHer stays at BlogHer... well, except for the 4,000 posts being written about it. Oops! Bad place to misbehave (so glad I didn't).

*photo: Jean Stimey Winegardner
**photo: Holly Rosen Fink 


  1. Ah man! It sounds truly fabulous! I wish I could have been there to see you and the others read!

    1. Wish you could have been here, too. Missed you. Next year in Chicago then?

  2. ha! You made me laugh with the "wishes she had curly hair" comment.

    Thank you, Varda, for meeting me at Anne's for dinner, then taking me home via sites and subway.

    You showed me NYC, Thank you.

    1. And you my dear, have now just provided the perfect teaser for my "More tales from BlogHer 12" post, coming soon... hear all about my NYC adventures with the one and only Empress Alexandra!

      Just LOVED getting to spend so much time with you, my friend, even if I did have to go home each night at the end of the party. Already looking forward to being roommates again, next summer in Chicago!

  3. Thanks for the shout-out, my friend. And you.were.WONDERFUL. As always. xxoo

  4. I will never forget this conference. Sitting with you on HealthMinder day was awesome. Listening to you at VOTY? Amazing. That piece held from me the first word.
    I cannot wait to see you again.

  5. You were INCREDIBLE reading at Voices of the Year. I am so glad I got to spend some time talking to you in the Serenity Suite. You are a bright light in this world, and I'm grateful for your words.



  6. I loved your reading. And more: getting to know you a few days later.

  7. Sounds like you had a great time, even if you can't remember all of it! Wish we could have been there to be inspired by your words.


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!